The mother of a mentally-challenged fifteen year-old girl has filed a lawsuit alleging that a teacher at Martin De Porres Academy in Elmont NY did nothing as fellow students brutally gang raped her daughter under her desk. Filed on January 11, the suit alleges that during the May 2012 attack during a science class at the Catholic school, a fellow student hit the girl on the head “whenever she tried to escape.” The mother of the girl, who is identified only by the initials K.J., claimed in the suit that the teacher ignored the assault despite being only feet away even while one student danced on the girl’s desk and another tried to sodomize her. The suit alleges that the girl informed a social worker of the school on the next day, school officials did not report the crime.
Reportedly, K.J. has an I.Q. of 60 and was the only girl in a class with thirteen boys. She had been sent to the school by public school administrators. The girl’s accused rapists all were known to have “violent propensities”, who reside at Casa De La Salle, a residence operated by an order of Catholic laymen for troubled youth.
The girl’s mother said she was powerless to get her daughter transferred immediately, resulting in being bullied for months at the school. In December 2012, officials at the school put K.J. in room with one of the boys who had allegedly harassed her sexually and told them to “discuss their issues.” Subsequently, K.J. left the room . Martin De Porres officials declared that an investigation is underway, and the teacher involved has been fired. Attorney Madeline Bryer, the attorney filing the case, said “It's mind-boggling how this could happen,” according to the New York Post.
Executive Director Ed Dana of Martin De Porres Academy declared that they conducted an investigation as soon as the abuse was reported and also dismissed the teacher. “We want the community to know that we hold our teachers to a high standard. Our top priority is the safety and well-being of the children in our care,” Dana said in a statement. The statement said, furthermore, “We also cooperated fully with detectives from Nassau County who advised us that no charges would be filed against the alleged assailants. Our Martin De Porres community is a family. We have seen your children through some difficult times, and we have watched with pride as they evolve into responsible adults. I want to assure you that their safety and well-being is our top priority.”
The Martin De Porres Academy is operated by members of a lay Catholic religious order known as the Institute of the Brothers of Christian Schools, who are also known as the Christian Brothers. This organization was founded in France in 1680 by St Jean Baptiste de la Salle, a Catholic priest known for his piety and charity. The order operated numerous schools in the United States and elsewhere. According to the schools website, the academy was consolidated with the Martin De Porres High School (Rosedale NY) and moved to the Rockaways area in September 2012.
“We serve special needs teenagers who have serious emotional, psychological, social and behavioral problems, and whose needs have not been met within New York City Department of Education’s special education programs,” says a statement on the website. The academy is named for a 16th century Peruvian saint, who was the son of a Spanish official and an African-American serving woman.